james debate
james debate

Monday 19 May 2008

This Wednesday, the big grudge match, Chelsea vs Manchester United in the final of the European Champions League, biggest game ever? there is certainly a lot of subtext.

Manchester United

The Team:
Manchester United are a team steeped in history vying for the recognition of being the best team in the world. As much as I hate them, you can't blame luck and bad referees for their success if they win this one, these refs are European and neutral. 

The Manager:On top of this you have legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson going for the title of Champions of Europe for the second time in his illustrious career. The comparisons between this man and the equally legendary Brian Clough have long abounded, but it is this second European conquest for Nottingham Forest that Cloughy has held over fergy all these years, leaving the red nosed scot to look on with envious eyes. Can Fergy finally accomplish this goal? 

Key Player:Further more we have Cristiano Ronaldo, a man currently being touted as the best player in the world. Love him for his insane skills or hate him for his unsporting attitude and atrocious tendency towards cheating, either way this is the man to watch in world football right now; his absurd goalscoring record of more than 40 goals this season for a midfielder may never be matched, and he is being tipped as a player who can singlehandedly win Euro2008 for his country in June, can he precede this with champions league glory for united first?


The Team:
Meanwhile at Chelsea we have a team that has exerted a certain air of dominance over the last few years, that has been shaken this year with constant off the pitch drama, politics in the board room that have torn the club in two (or is it three?) and a seemingly impossible string of unlikely injuries and all kinds of bad luck. In short, the universe has not been chelsea's friend this year. Has Chelsea's luck finally changed?

The Manager:Heavily criticised manager Avram Grant has had a tough act to follow after the departure of hugely successful manager Jose Mourinho and after a season that can only be described as 'long and painful' for a chelsea fan, he has somehow mounted a quiet resurgence, taking chelsea to two cup finals, and challenging for the league title on the final day of the season. One of these two cup finals is the Champions League; it is Chelsea's last chance for silverware this year and would in one fell swoop save chelsea's season and Grant's career (which is otherwise doomed if you listen to what they say in the papers). This is also the one cup that Chelsea have never won, the one trophy that eluded Mourinho in his time at Chelsea, and after 3 semi final appearances in the last 4 years.

Key Player:Highly unlucky not to win the player of the year award for the premiership last season after being the top scorer as well as one of the better defenders and providers for his team, Didier Drogba has become one of the best strikers in the world, as well as a player who is as hated as Ronaldo, for similarly unsporting behaviour, though to his credit we don't see it in him very often anymore. Drogba is a man who can win a game singlehandedly. One only needs to look at the semi final vs Liverpool. Overweight Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez thought (foolishly) that it would be a good mind game to call Drogba a diver and insult his game and his attitude before the match. Drogba responded by scoring twice to knock his team out of the competition, before running over and celebrating right in front of Rafa. Unbelievably, two United players have come out saying the exact same thing before this match, clearly not learning from past mistakes. Will history repeat itself?

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